A young Florida boy lost both his father and grandmother earlier this month in a horrific crash just a few hours north of Naples.
The Tampa Bay Times reported the 6-year-old survived the tragedy, in which his relatives drowned after the family’s sport utility vehicle rolled over into a canal.
As the water flooded into the vehicle, the child was pulled to safety. He then watched, desperate and helpless, as the vehicle sunk, two of those closest to him inside.
While investigators continue to try to learn what happened, this devastating accident spotlights how critical it is for motorists in South Florida and throughout the state to drive with the utmost caution around our many bodies of water.
Pristine beaches and serene waterways are a magnet not just for tourists, but for the millions of people who call Florida home.
But our Naples car accident attorneys know that like most aspects of nature, behind that beauty are hidden dangers, particularly for auto travelers.
As Florida is a peninsula, it is surrounded by water. But in addition to the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, Florida drivers must be cautious when navigating in areas with nearby lakes and intertwining canals. In South Florida, for example, the city of Cape Coral has more than 400 miles of inland canals, which have been the site of a number of submerged vehicle accidents – too many of those with deadly consequences.
The tragic case out of North Florida illustrates why drivers must use extreme caution.
According to the Times, the boy’s grandmother was driving northbound on Shoal Line Boulevard when she began to drift to along the shoulder. Troopers say she over-corrected, crossed into the south lane and plunged into a nearby canal, where it became overturned and sunk.
After emergency crews pulled the child safely from the wreckage, they tried to save his father and grandmother. Sadly, they did not survive.
The newspaper reported the boy’s mother is in prison, so his 26-year-old brother assumed custody of him.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports that when motorists crash into water, panic quickly sets in. But it’s important to keep your cool.
Our South Florida car accident attorneys urge you to heed the following tips to improve your chance for survival in a submerged vehicle:
–Always wear your seat belt. This will ensure that you will be kept in place during the initial impact. Some people worry they will not be able to free themselves from the seat belt if they crash into water. But this isn’t true. Further, not wearing your seat belt puts you at risk for head injuries. If you lose consciousness, you can’t help yourself or your passengers.
–Try not to panic.
–Unbuckle your seat belt.
–Check on your other passengers, and unbuckle them too.
–If the vehicle is sinking slowly, roll down the window. You should be able to crawl out the window and swim to safety.
–If you are sinking rapidly, you need to wait for the water pressure inside the vehicle to equalize. Stay calm. Allow the vehicle fill with water. Take off your shoes and any other bulky clothing items. When the water is half way up the window, begin rolling down the window. When the water begins to rush in, try your best to stay in the air pocket at the top off the car. Then take a breath of air and swim to safety.
–Keep a hammer in your vehicle. If you have electronic windows, you may not be able to roll them down. Having this tool within reach could be your best option for survival. It probably won’t work on the front windshield, but it may work on the back or side windows. Swing at the bottom of the window, and push out.